KUCHING: Malaysia’s trade surplus last year recorded the fourth consecutive year of double-digit growth, with an expansion of 26.9 per cent to RM184.79 billion, said Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali yesterday.
He said this was also the largest trade surplus thus far, representing the country’s achievement in sustaining trade surplus for 23 consecutive years since 1998.
“Malaysia’s exports in 2020, valued at RM980.99 billion, declined marginally by 1.4 per cent from the preceding year, in tandem with the unfavourable external environment due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Exports rebounded in the second half of 2020, increasing by 4.8 per cent. This is a significant improvement from a 7.9 per cent contraction in the first half of 2020 as the economy progressively reopened and external demand gradually recovered,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Azmin said lower exports were recorded to Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Japan while higher exports were registered to China, the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong SAR.
He said total trade last year amounting to RM1.777 trillion, a contraction by 3.6 per cent from the figure in 2019 while imports totalled RM796.19 billion, a decline of 6.3 per cent.
“Malaysia’s trade performance was in tandem with countries in the region notably Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand,” he added.
He added that Asean remained as an important and strategic trading partner for Malaysia, accounting for 25.2 per cent of the country’s total trade last year.
He said trade with Asean, which valued at RM447.4 billion was a decrease of nine per cent compared to that a year ago.
“In 2020, exports to Asean reached RM272.92 billion, making up 27.8 per cent of Malaysia’s total exports. Exports to the region posted a contraction of 4.7 per cent following lower exports of crude petroleum, manufactures of metal, petroleum products as well as iron and steel products.
“The decline however was cushioned by higher exports of E&E products, transport equipment and other manufactures especially solid-state storage devices (SSD),” he added.
Azmin said exports to markets in Asean that recorded expansion last year were Singapore, which increased by RM5.09 billion, Brunei (up RM488 million), Myanmar (up million) and Laos (up RM22.7 million).
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam remained as Malaysia’s top three export destinations last year, accounting for 80 per cent of Malaysia’s exports to Asean, he said.
He added that China remained as Malaysia’s largest export destination, with exports expanding by 12.5 per cent to RM158.6 billion, the highest thus far.
The expansion was driven by higher exports of iron and steel products, other manufactures, E&E products, manufactures of metal, palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products, rubber products as well as paper and pulp products.
Exports to China contributed 16.2 per cent to Malaysia’s total exports last year.
“As Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years, trade with China in 2020 accounted for a larger share at 18.6 per cent of total trade compared to 17.2 per cent a year ago.”
Trade with China expanded by 4.2 per cent to RM329.77 billion.
China was also Malaysia’s largest import source, accounting for 21.5 per cent of total imports last year or RM171.18 billion, contracted by 2.6 per cent compared to 2019.
Main imports were E&E products, machinery, equipment and parts as well as chemicals and chemical products.
Azmin said trade with the European Union (EU) last year was valued at RM142.84 billion or eight per cent of Malaysia’s total trade, marking a decline of 10.4 per cent from 2019 figures.
“Trade with Malaysia’s third largest trading partner, the US, grew by 7.8 per cent to RM178.18 billion, constituting 10 per cent of Malaysia’s total trade in 2020. In 2020, Japan remained as Malaysia’s 4th largest trading partner for six successive years since 2015. Trade with Japan constituted 6.9 per cent or RM122.73 billion of Malaysia’s total trade, a decline of 5.3 per cent,” he noted.
He said trade with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners last year stood at RM1.185 trillion, lower by 3.7 per cent and accounted for 66.7 per cent of Malaysia’s total trade.
Exports to FTA partners was valued at RM667.46 billion, a decrease of 1.6 per cent and represented 68 per cent of Malaysia’s total exports.
Major export products were E&E products, petroleum products as well as chemicals and chemical products which contributed 53.2 per cent to Malaysia’s total exports to FTA markets.
“In 2020, significant growth in exports were recorded to the emerging markets notably Costa Rica, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Kazakhstan,” he added.